Letter to Birmingham JailPaper Rating: Word Count: 4137 Approx Pages: 17
In his Letter From Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. seizes the opportunity to insult the eight clergymen who criticized his participation in and support of the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, under the guise of superficial politeness. He begins by addressing the eight clergymen as his "dear fellow clergymen; the word "dear is King's first use of sarcastic politeness, and the description of the men as his "fellow clergymen establishes that by criticizing King, the eight clergymen are criticizing themselves. King's statement that the clergymen are of "genuine good will, which initially seems flattering, is proven to be sarcasm as the letter continues.
King takes a logical approach to persuade his readers of his opinions and dispute their criticism. He starts his argument by identifying the clergymen's reason for criticizing him, then showing the fallacies in their accusation- a format repeated for each of the clergymen's accusations. King uses ethical appeal when he lists the organizations across the South, which he is representing as the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He justifies his presence at the demonstration in Birmingham by saying that the Birmingham organization affiliated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference "asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. Then he reinforces the notion that he was not in Birmingham uninvited by directly stating "I...am here because I was invited here.
King then presents his moral obligations for being in Birmingham. He states, "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here, implying that as clergymen, they too have a moral obligation to be participating in the demonstrations, even more so than the average lay person. He alludes to religious prophets to giv... Continue Reading